Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April 30, 2008 GREAT NEWS!

Carol went to the orthopedic-surgeon's office and left with something different than she has from the previous arthritis doctor - hope instead of pills. We saw the x-rays of the knees and her right knee is bone on bone. He first gave her a shot of cortisone into the knee and then advised us of a new procedure called Synvisc. This is a series of three shots into the knee that lubricates the joint. He said that this is a procedure that will probably put off the inevitable full knee replacement for months or longer. As we were leaving he said "We can help you." Sweet words that Carol has not heard before. The shot she got took the majority of her pain away almost instantly. "For the first time in a long time, I feel I can walk without hurting." Soon after she got home she took a warm bath. Another first for quite a while. She has had to shower because she could not lower herself into the tub and then get up and out without extreme pain. We really appreciate the kind words and prayers that we have received from so many of you. Hopefully, we can soon restart our traveling commentary again as we get out into this beautiful land. We enjoy sharing our sights, sounds, smells and experiences with you all.

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 28, 2008 Grand Blanc and Hartland, MI

Tomorrow is a big day for us. Carol and I go to see the orthopedic surgeon to see what the options are for her knees. She has had the x-rays, MRI and is now ready to see just what can be done to stop this constant pain. Tomorrow, hopefully, we will have some answers that will lead us to the next step. I have been meeting with my new boss at Waldenwoods trying to learn what my new duties will be. I will be working Mondays on days riding a golf cart and walking the park assisting guests and members and Fridays and Saturdays on nights at the Cromaine Hall in the park , providing assistance and security at weddings and parties. Another new experience. Ranger Jim is ready.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008 Grand Blanc, MI

Since we have arrived home from Florida, it seems like it has been go-go all the time - unpacking, doctors' appointments, meeting with Waldenwoods RV Resort about new summer job at their campground. Last Saturday was Birthday Party Day for Sarah, our newly 4 year old granddaughter. This is always a nice time because we are in Grandparent Hog Heaven on these occasions. Tomorrow, Carol has a MRI on her knee and I have a training session at Waldenwoods, after the MRI. Carol then goes to talk with an orthopedic surgeon in a few days about her options with her arthritic knee. Her family doctor said that there may be some alternatives to knee replacement at this time but the surgeon must be consulted with first. He also was not happy with the amount of arthritis he saw in the x-ray of the knee. We should know a lot more about our summer by next week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008 Wapakoneta, OH to Grand Blanc, MI (Home)

We finally made it home this afternoon. We quickly unloaded the Montana of everything but some clothing and food and then took Monty to Waldenwoods RV Resort, where I will be workkamping this summer, and set it up. When asked if I wished to start work tomorrow, I advised them that we just got back and will talk with them later about starting. It is now later in the evening and I will try to post photos that we took today tomorrow after a shower and some sleep. As good as this adventure was, it was tiring.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16, 2008 Lexington, KY to Wapakoneta, OH

This was a beautiful travel day - hardly a cloud in the sky, the sun at our backs and a tailwind. We left the Kentucky Horse Park Campground and traveled as far as Covington, KY with Rich and Helen, friends from the MOC. We had lunch at a Flying J truck stop and they forked off of I-75 at I-71 and we continued north on 75 to Wapakoneta, OH, the Lakewood Village RV Resort. Soon after we set up, we met with Steve and Patty, friends from the MOC, and had dinner. Great folks who were Co-Wagon Masters at last years MOC Fall Rally. Got more good ideas and suggestions for this fall's rally. They will bring their Montana to Michigan later this summer and we will meet again. We left them in time to see American Idol. I told Carol that I believe that this is the best journey that I have been on since we have been RVing - spent the winter in Central Florida working with Mickey Mouse in Disney World, camped at the same campground as a couple of other MOC members so saw them regularly, taking over two weeks to get back home meandering up I-75 from FL to Michigan, saw other friends while in Florida, asked to be and accepted the position of Wagon Master for the 2008 MOC Fall Rally, was able to name Rich and Helen, two of the friends that we camped with at Mouse Mountain, as Assistant Wagon Masters, traveled with them from Florida to Kentucky, met with another pair of friends from the MOC for dinner today in Sidney, OH for dinner, advised that I will be Ranger Jim this summer at Waldenwoods RV Resort in Hartland, MI. Goodness, we will be home tomorrow so that we can start giving and getting family hugs that we have only been able to talk and think about for three months. Life just gets better. Now, if we can only get Carol's knees to stop keeping her in constant pain, it will be perfect. Saw some interesting sights today - the skyline of Cincinnati is always nice as you come over the mountain and see the town along the Ohio River, the statue of Christ along I-75, and, of course, the Welcome to Ohio sign. We also noticed that, in the mountains, we stopped seeing the green trees. Most were bare and some had only small buds on them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008 The Kentucky Horse Park

We saw beauty today in the forms of several breeds of horses at The Kentucky Horse Park. This is a 1,200 acre showplace featuring the horses. It is owned by The Commonwealth of Kentucky and is actually part of their state park system. They have hundreds of horses that they show, breed and take care of in modern facilities. Man-O-War, probably the finest racehorse that ever lived, is memorialized here. There is a huge statue of him over the spot where he is buried. This horse was so huge that his stride was 28 feet. Besides the live horses, there are lifelike statues throughout the park with various themes around them. We went to a couple of horse shows that were presented by volunteers and employees of the park. The black horse with the white hairs hanging over its hooves is an English Shire horse. This is a very muscular work horse and one of Carol's favorites. The rider of one of the other work horses performed acrobatic tricks on its back. In case you didn't recognize us, that is Carol and me under the statue of Man-O-War. This is our last day in Kentucky. Tomorrow we travel to Wapakoneta, OH, which is just north of Dayton. We will meet with some friends from Troy, OH for dinner and then travel on home Thursday. What a journey this has been. It is just starting to hit me that we are actually heading home and this portion of our life's journey is about to close and the next about to open. Wonder what it will have in store for us. We will partially unload the Montana at home and then set it up at Waldenwoods RV Resort in Hartland, MI, where I will be Ranger Jim for the summer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 14, 2008 Berea, KY to Lexington, KY, The Kentucky Horse Park

This was a short jaunt up I-75 to the campground on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park. This campground has 260 water and electric paved sites with acres of green, green grass. Very clean. The only thing missing is the sewers at each site. That makes an excellent campground into just a really great park. The Kentucky Horse Park is 1,200 acres set in the rolling hills of Kentucky, just before the bluegrass becomes the Appalachians. There are horse barns, horses of all kinds, horse fences and show arenas all over the place. Also what seems like miles and miles of beautiful pasture with grazing horses. We got to the visitors center about 4:15 PM and the shows were done and the park was about to close at 5:00. We were able to figure out a rough proposed itinerary for tomorrow, though, with Rich and Helen. This area would have to compare to Graceland for Carol - she LOVES horses and Elvis. We went to dinner at a steakhouse that we located by using our GPS Points of Interest feature. This was a very old restaurant/bar in Lexington that advertised that it had been serving people for many years. We were not sure even about the neighborhood when we parked the truck and were even more apprehensive when we entered the old building. Quickly the trepidations left as we were served well, quickly and with delicious food. One of the sides was sweet potato casserole. I love sweet potatos, sweet potato pie and, now, this place's sweet potato casserole. This had raisins and pecans in it and brown sugar glaze on top. Oh, my - that, in itself, would make me want to come back. Tomorrow we will see the followers of Man-O-War, Secretariat, Cigar and other great thoroughbreds. We will see draft horses and who know what else. We will do this park like we did Disney - walking slowly, stopping a lot and really enjoying what we are seeing. The weather is still reminding us that we are nearing Michigan. The thermometer said it reached 44 degrees today but it is hard to believe. It was cloudy and spitting rain part of the day. Tonight it is supposed to get down into the 20s so we filled our water tank and put our hoses and water filters into the basement where it will be heated. The holding tanks will be heated by the furnace also. Tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny and go up to a "balmy" 58. Where is Florida when we need it?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008 Heiskell, TN to Berea, KY

It was cold when we got up today. Warmed up into the lower 40s while we broke camp to travel. Soon after we started toward Berea, KY, it began to rain mixed with sleet/snow. As we went higher into the mountains near the Tennessee/Kentucky border, the sleet was more pronounced. When we got to our campground in Berea, Walnut Meadow RV Park, the rain increased. It was raining and sleeting while we parked and set up camp. Rich and Helen, friends from the Montana Owners Club, arrived an hour or so after we did and it was sleeting even more while they set up. It seems so long ago that we were sweating in the 80 degree plus days. There were freeze watches for tonight but they were changed to tomorrow night because is will only get into the mid 30s, so they say. We are going to the Kentucky Horse Park tomorrow in Lexington. We hope the thoroughbreds emit a lot of heat and are willing to share. We will be soon singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" if this keeps up. Our heaters and furnace are working so we are snug inside. Didn't set up the satellite dish in this stuff. We get pretty good reception using our antenna so we will be cozy here. Snug in our Monty with good friends to share lies and stories with - guess things are great after all. We did get some great photos today. Carol has become a very good photographer. The valleys in the mountains are vast and beautiful. Several years ago, someone got upset with the porn stores that were appearing alongside the expressways. He erected a huge cross near one in Northern Tennessee along I-75. The building to the right of the cross with the red roof is the porn shop. I don't know if the cross is working. The building seems to be larger every time that we pass it. We saw more of the purple bushes and trees growing out of the rock alongside the road. Carol wanted a picture of the I-75 sign showing her that we were, in fact, going north.

Friday, April 11, 2008

April 11, 2008 Heiskell, TN and Oak Ridge, TN

This was a full day. We started out going to Oak Ridge, TN. This is the home of The Manhattan Project - the World War II project that originated, tested and perfected the atomic bomb that was used to end the war. On the way, we once again passed the beautiful lavender bushes that are all along the highways in this area. We came to a bridge that crossed our road that looked like it had seen its better days BEFORE the Manhattan Project. At the American Museum of Science and Energy, there were demonstrations and attractions that explained and demonstrated life in Oak Ridge during the war. Oak Ridge was called the Clinton Engineer Works during the war and was named Oak Ridge after the war. It was 60,000 acres surrounded by a barbed wire fence, guards and gates. It became the fifth largest city in Tennessee with 75,000 workers. The project consumed one-seventh of the electricity used in the United States during this time. There were very few automobiles so the bus transportation system became the fourth largest in the U.S. Workers, both military and non-military, were sworn to secrecy and could not tell anyone why they were there or what they were doing. This was a self contained city with schools, stores, entertainment, stores, et al. It was so secret that many did not even know what they were doing - if this light goes on, flip this switch, for example. Today, this is still at the forefront for energy and weapons creation, testing and utilization, relied upon by the military and civilian sectors alike. When we left, we passed a station of the gigantic TVA, The Tennessee Valley Authority. This is a massive electrical power producer covering much of the south. This area is on sort of a plateau between mountainous areas. Heavy, dangerous storms were approaching from the west. Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms had raked Nashville and Memphis and there were watches and warnings all over.The wind picked up with gusts over 40 MPH and rain started falling very hard. The wind and boomers have left but it is still raining. We walked in the rain down to the clubhouse in the campground and listened to The Bushy Valley Boys pickin' and singin'. The Bushy Valley Boys actually consist of two guys and two gals, three guitars and a string base.They all sing and a good time was had by all. This started out as a pot luck but, since it was raining hard, we ate at home. When we arrived, we were told several times to "eat up" but we didn't. Because of this changing weather, we will stay another night here before going on to Berea, KY on Sunday. Tomorrow night here is supposed to go down to 34 degrees and then 32 Sunday night in Berea. We are being prepared for our Michigan return.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10, 2008 Cartersville, GA to Heiskell, TN

We had music all night long last night. A confused robin was singing all night long outside our Monty. It was beautiful but didn't he realize that he was supposed to be sleeping? Maybe all of his friends had flown back up north leaving him behind. We left Cartersville, GA this morning and headed north. When we went outside, we saw a greenish, powdery substance all over our truck and Monty. There was a medium breeze and it seemed to be blowing smoke or dust. We discovered that it was pollen. It got into almost everything. We crossed into Tennessee at Chattanooga and stopped at the Volunteer Family Campground in Heiskill, TN. This is just north of Knoxville. Along the way we noticed that the green was disappearing and more trees had either no foliage or were just starting to bud. There were purple bushes along the way, some growing out of the rock walls as we went through the mountains. This campground is close to the University of Tennessee, hence the name Volunteer Camp Ground for the Tennessee Volunteers. We have a very nice site. The pad that we are on is cement and flat. The ground next to the pad is crushed rock and we have full hook-ups. Tomorrow night is a country/western show/pot luck dinner. What a combination, eh? We love it. Everyone here is so nice. There are many northerners heading north from southern climes where all spent the winter. We heard today that it is cold again in Michigan. What else would we expect in April? It is going to get colder here starting with heavy storms tomorrow - Saturday and Sunday going to highs of the upper 40s and lower 50s. This is just getting us ready for returning home, we guess.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 9, 2008 Unadilla GA to Cartersville, GA

Today we moved from Unadilla, GA to Cartersville, GA, the Allatoona Landing Marine Resort. This is an RV park that is on Lake Allatoona that also has a marina, as the name implies. We are alongside a working set of railroad tracks that were used in The Great Locomotive Chase. This occurred in the Civil War when Union spies stole a train north of Atlanta and were chased by the Confederates for a long ways with a host of adventures along the way. We drove through Atlanta this afternoon. This city has some of the heaviest traffic in the nation and the Bypass can be blocked for hours with the many truck crashes along it. We have better fortune driving straight through but do not do it during rush hour. The traffic could be described as "medium" when we went through and moved right along. We passed the Olympic Torch from the Atlanta Olympic Games. It is located right downtown and alongside I-75 so that we could easily photograph it as we passed. For those that will try for this photo shot when passing through, have your camera ready because it appears quickly and is gone just as fast. Tomorrow we move on to the Volunteer Park Family Campground in Heiskell, TN, just north of Knoxville. We will spend two nights there and then to Renfro Valley, KY Saturday for a Country and Western show.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 8, 2008 Andersonville POW Memorial

Today was a very somber day. We went to the Andersonville, GA POW Memorial. This is the former Civil War Confederate POW prison. It is now a memorial to POWs of all wars. There were artifacts, photographs, drawings, films and recordings from many POW up to and including the Gulf War. Andersonville Prison itself was built to accommodate 10,000 prisoners and ended up holding more than 32,000 prisoners at one time. 42,000 prisoners were here at one time or another and 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding or exposure. At one time, over 100 a day were dying. They had "death buildings" where they placed the bodies before burial. Since so many were dying, they stopped burying them in pine boxes and just lining them up in ditches. The headstones showed this by one abutting against the next and so on, instead of a distance between them. The town of Andersonville is nearby the old prison site. It seems like a sleepy, old southern town. Our truck was maybe the newest thing we saw there. So many gave so much so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do have and it brings home heavily the cost of our freedom. Many paid the ultimate price and many are still paying. God Bless You All, Jim and Carol

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7, 2008 Clermont, FL to Unadilla, GA

Today we traveled north to Unadilla, GA. We were going to stop at Lake City, FL for the night but it was cloudy and the traffic was moving well so we went on to a Coast to Coast park, Southern Trails, in Unadilla. We have stayed here many times in the past. It is right next to I-75 and not far south of Macon, GA. We will be here for two nights and then move on to Northern Georgia to a town called Wildwood. It is 64 degrees outside right now and Carol is ecstatic. Having been in Florida for so long, we are in shorts and wondering why so many are in jackets and long sleeves. The scenery is changing. There are no more palm trees and the grass and trees are not quite as lush as they were in Florida. It is still nice getting closer to home. So many kids and grandkids to hug that we are chafing at the bit to do it and not to just talk about it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April 6, 2008 Clermont, FL

Today is our last in the land Disney. This morning we went to the Cast Connection for the last time. This is the store that gives Cast Members, employees of Disney, great discounts for all merchandise. Three are two sides to the store - one that has discontinued merchandise for ten percent off and one that has damaged or flawed goods for seventy five percent off. The damages and flaws are sometimes not able to be found. I got a Mickey Mouse watch that had a second hand that caught up on the minute hand for 75% off and had it repaired for less than $20.00. This gave me a great watch for a great price. Today we found some more gift items and a couple more Ts with Mickey on them. Tomorrow, we leave this campground and will either go to Lake City, FL or Unadilla, GA. The weather will probably have a lot to do with our decision of where to land. We have been having heavy light and music shows (lightning and thunder) lately in the afternoons and evenings. It is raining and booming right now, keeping us inside. We don't wish to set up at a new campground in the rain, although it would not be the first time we have done that. We see and hear that the weather in Michigan is improving. Starting on or about the 17th, we will find out first hand how the Michigan weather is.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

April 5, 2008 Clermont, FL

We really like it here at The Bees RV Resort. We were here two weeks on our way to Mouse Mountain in early January and, when we come back to Florida, may stay here for the time, instead of the Mountain. They have their own restaurant here. It is open two nights a week, Tuesday night for a chicken dinner and Friday night for an all-u-can-eat fish dinner. Carol is not fond of fish but she really enjoyed the fish last night. It was freshly caught and delicious. It has been very hot and humid for a while now and we have been getting storms in the afternoons and evenings - much rain and blowing. Regions north of us have been getting tornado warnings. Today we took care of some running around - prescription pickups, oil change, groceries, etc. Tonight we are going out to dinner with some friends and tomorrow we are probably going to Disney for one last visit this season. Monday we plan on moving camp to Lake City, FL. That is about 135 miles north of here. Carol is looking forward to the northern trip so that she can get into cooler temperatures. I remind her to be careful what you ask for. The RV parks around here are not nearly as crowded as they have been during the winter season because so many have headed back north by now. We hope to have this condition all the way home. This gives us easier access to choicer sites. The process of preparing for the Fall Rally in Goshen has begun. It is fun planning something of this magnitude again. I have been an administrator and supervisor for most of my adult life and have learned that I am the dumbest person in the world and just happen to be surrounded by so many that are willing to share. That is also taking place here in our capacity of Wagon Masters of the MOC Fall Rally. We have been getting some great ideas and offers of help and assistance. We now have two couples that have been named Assistant Wagon Masters and they are going to be of tremendous help. We have known them personally and enjoyed the experience and look forward eagerly to working with them to put together this rally.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

April 3, 2008 Davenport to Clermont, FL

Although we are now only 30 miles or so north of Mouse Mountain RV Resort, where we left this morning, we are NORTH. Starting our two week trek to Michigan. We went out to dinner and when we left Chili's, the sky in the southwest was black. Soon it was raining and blowing so hard we could hardly see to drive. Now, it is blowing and raining less but still doing so. Felt both bad and good to move today - bad because our winter of fullfilling dreams is rapidly approaching the end but good because we are about to see the kids and grandkids. Also, I will be "Ranger Jim" for the summer and fall and am looking forward to it. Carol is going to meet with her doctor and see what can be done about her knees. All else has failed and now something more drastic must be looked into so that she is not in constant pain any more. What a relief that would be for her to not be awakened from a sound sleep or stopped from doing something she wished to do because of the intense pain. We will stay here in The Bees RV Resort in Clermont, FL for a few days and then on to Lake City, FL, then Unadilla, GA, then Wildwood, GA, then Haskill, TN, then Renfro Valley, KY, then Berea, KY then the Ky Horse Park in Lexington, then Wapakoneta, OH and then home about April 18. We are looking forward to this portion of our journey - what will we see, what will we do? Hardly wait to find out. Maybe one more trip to Disney before we leave then, Look out,Michigan. Here we come!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April 2, 2008 Disney World Hollywood Studios

We went to Disney Hollywood Studios today with Tom and Angie, friends from Michigan who have a winter place here in Poinciana. We strolled and watched Indiana Jones stunt doubles and actors show us how they did the Indiana Jones stunts for the movies. This is so fascinating. They did all from simple fist fights to climbing ropes and sides of buildings, falling (or getting knocked off) the tops of buildings, commandeering a plane and fighting with the Nazis to escape. These stunt people are very athletic and agile. Quite amazing. We then went to a Star Wars venue where we went into a Space Capsule and flew to another planet's moon. We were seat belted in our seats and there was a large screen in front of us showing us the view from the cockpit. What a rush! We could actually feel like we were in a space ship. We were thrust back on takeoff and the seats tipped when we turned, zigged and zagged. As various obstacles were met, we took various evasive actions to elude danger. We could actually feel it in our heads and the seats did tip and move, adding to the illusion. We walked the "Streets of New York, Chicago and San Francisco." We took the Great Movies Ride that took us into the making of olden movies. Our driver even was kidnapped and we were then driven by "Bugsy" the thug for a while, until he was "killed off" in an Indiana Jones type setting and Kevin, our first driver, returned. During this ride, a gun battle broke out around us between two gangs of armed "bad guys." We "Followed the Yellow Brick Road" for a while and saw Bogie talking with Bergman in "Casablanca." It was very hot under the sun and most of the attractions were under cover and very well ventilated so it was fine until we were in the street. With the heat, we left and went to Disney Downtown where our guests purchased some items and then to a Cast Member store where we purchased more for our grandkids. A little over two weeks until we see them again and we can't wait.